We tested five brands for both coloring quality and resistance to heat (that they might experience in transit). The brands we tested were Crayola which you can normally get for $0.50 at Walmart & Dollar General during back to school sales. Cra-Z-Art are normally $0.25 during back-to-school sales at Walmart. Playskool can be found at Dollar Tree and other dollar stores for $1. Dollar General offers a brand I*Magine often 3 for $1 or $0.33/$0.34 a piece at Back-to-school. Also at Office Depot I got some Scholastic brand for $0.01. All those prices are for 24 count except Playskool that is 36. Now crayons exact make up may change from year to year, or from batch to batch, especially cheaper ones that may have less stringent controls, but this is the best info we can give you. For those who are concerned about manufacture location: most of the boxes said made in China, Crayola said made in the USA, but some are also made Mexico, you'll have to check the package if it matters to you.
First, how do they color?
Everyone has different preferences in coloring tools. For instance, I prefer gel pens and hate ball point pens, but other members of my family like ball point and don't like gel pens. So, it's hard to tell what others look for in crayons, but here's how our test turned out (thanks to my mom, Cheryl for testing and writing the guest review):
"For overall ease of use I was surprised that I found all the crayons easy to color with. They all put down nice color. So overall I would gladly share any of the five brands with a child in my life. Now for the specifics.
Heavy Pressure Coloring Test Results
I wanted to see how the crayons held up under heavy pressure coloring and how the colors stayed true to the crayon itself. Also, if the crayons wore down quickly. I was surprised that all of the crayons seemed to hold up well and none of them broke as I colored. Details of each are below image.
Fish image from Crafting for Shoeboxes Colouring Booklets.
- Rich color; pretty even coverage.
- Closely matches color of crayon.
- Left the most "crumbles" of all the crayons tested.
- CraZArt (WalMart)
- Rich color; a little less even coverage than Crayola, but not much.
- Color was true to crayon.
- Was crumbly, too, but not as much as Crayola.
- Playskool (Dollar Tree)
- Compared to the others, the color was much lighter than the crayon, but had nice, even coverage.
- The results looked much more like colored pencils. Which I thought for older children, or adults, would be nice.
- It was impossible to get a dark, rich color even with much pressure.
- Were not very crumbly.
- Actually, these were my favorite to color with.
- I*Magine (Dollar General)
- Did not color as darkly.
- Least even coverage.
- Surprising not very crumbly.
- Probably my least favorite.
- Scholastic (Office Depot)
- Colored quite darkly.
- Left some white spaces, but pretty much colored nicely.
- Not excessively crumbly.
In conclusion, as I said earlier, I was surprised by the results (I went into the test with pre-conceived opinions as to "name brand means better") and that I would gladly share any of these crayons with a special child in my life. As for sending them in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift that is going to depend on the results of the heat/melting test. If they melt in transit they will not do the child any good. And they may leave oily residue on the other gifts in the box."
I also put some strong (but not excessive pressure) on all of the crayons and still none of them broke, so they all seemed surprisingly sturdy.
You can also see a test done by a five year old that Clip with Purpose did here: http://www.clipwithpurpose.com/crayon-testing/ .
If you'd like to make some coloring books to go with your crayons stop by Crafting for Shoeboxes and download the Colouring Booklets. She has them for all ages and sizes for both US and European paper sizes.
Second, how do they hold up to heat?
There have been some concerns about how some crayons might hold up to high temperatures they may be exposed to in transit to their recipients. So, we did some tests to see how the different brands held up to different temperatures, you can see the results here if you're interested on this blog soon, I'll edit this post to add a link once it's done.
So, that's what we found from out tests...hope this helps someone make a more informed decision on which brand to send, it's helped us decide. If you do a large number, you might want to test them for yourself-we plan to put the unused crayons from the test boxes in soap boxes and send them in shoeboxes (unless any brands fail the heat stress test).